WW III – the Reader Weekly, Issue 792

Bob Boone, publisher of the Reader Weekly, made his first foray into Superintendent’s campaign to find some rationale for removing Art Johnston from the Duluth School Board. (I think I know the real reasons and they have nothing to do with the six bullet points on the list of items to be investigated) Boone’s first foray was a cautious beginning for a fellow who used to be a race car driver. Bob is used to taking risks, however, and I can’t think of anything more heart stopping than publishing some of the stories he has pursued without the protection of big corporation behind him to absorb the costs of a libel suit.

Bob is a good writer but as a publisher he normally shuns that responsibility.Instead he has a stable of columnists of varying talents and enthusiasms. I was one of the columnists for four years and 100 issues and have contributed many other columns especially as they relate to the Red Plan’s development since 2006 to the Reader.

I’m looking forward to Boone’s future stories on the Superintendent’s successful efforts to turn what had promised to be a sleepy summer for ISD 709 into a media circus. Boone’s column “Dysfunctional and Mean-Spirited” got its title from my quote in Jana Hollingsworth’s News Tribune story about the meeting. She asked me after the meeting if I could succinctly (a challenge for me) appraise the meeting. I paused for a moment and slowly thought my way through a summation.

After the meeting, Welty said the allegations were mean-spirited, and highlighted the dysfunction of the board.

“It’s a terrible distraction of the education of our children,” he said.

There may be a bit of a race between Bob and Jana to get details of this “investigation” out into the light of day. I described it at the school board meeting as “tawdry” and the meeting’s temporary chair, Bill Westholm” strongly objected to that description. If and when I get the video of the meeting I’ll post it and you dear readers can see how he preferred to look on the coming Star Chamber proceedings. At least their won’t be any Choke pears or Judas Chairs. The law firm Fafinski, Scratch and Claw may, however, employ a Head crusher. Certainly they will be happy to drain Art Johnston’s savings in the effort to get revenge on him for asking so many annoying questions. It is no longer enough to simply hide behind a predictable and routine Board majority to ignore and or out vote any calls for public data. In fact, last week our CFO, William Hanson, told Art he would have to pay the School District $2,000 for the time a recent data request would take the business office to gather together. I’ve never heard of any other District imposing such a cost on a School Board member before. But, Alas, that method of bankrupting Art must have been determined to be too slow. Lawyers are much more efficient and faster way to bleed a man to death. Not only that but allegations of assault, racism, conflict of interest and the like have the added benefit of a campaign of character assassination. Nothing tawdry in that.

Jana, to my amazement, knows stuff I’m not supposed to talk about from my previous experience on the School Board and Boone has courted me for years to help him cover the School District. I’ve only seen Bob at perhaps one other Duluth School Board meeting. He was there last night with a camera and a quick mind. His was a short but accurate depiction of events. After the meeting he asked if he could interview me. He called me later and I gave him a lot of background that has yet to find itself in any publication. You will be able to read a lot of it here in Lincoln Democrat if you can stand my discursive ways. I’ll be titling posts related to this with the prefix “WW III.”

Boone, asked if he could drop by later and have me dictate my thoughts into his cell phone. (amazing devices aren’t they?)
I told him I was about to watch the FX series Fargo with my wife and wanted to enjoy at least a little of the evening with her without politics. We’d already missed the 9 pm show so I could watch Fox New’s take on the meeting. We would be watching the 10:15 show and that meant Bob would have to show up at my place at 11:30. Bob agreed. He was under deadline and would be working all night to get the Reader to the printers in the morning.

I could barely stay awake through Fargo the result of a long day that began when Art was told we would be holding a “special” meeting after the Education Committee. (Its always nice to get a good advance warning of an inquisition.) After Fargo was over I brought a pillow to the kitchen midway between our front and back doors and laid down on the hard surface. I wanted to make sure I would wake no matter which door Bob knocked on in case I dozed off while waiting for him to arrive.

I’d already spoken with him for 45 minutes on the phone. After he showed up he was at my place until a quarter to 1. So far he’s only covered the tip of the iceberg. As I told Loren Martell after the special meeting was announced “Fasten your seat belt its going to be a bumpy ride.” Loren made the meeting as well and I’ll be very interested to read what he has to say in the Reader next week.

I met with Superintendent Gronseth a day or two before this imbroglio and told him I thought he was getting very poor political and financial advice. The CFO was in the room at the time as well as the Human Relations Director. The three of them were largely mute during my thirty minutes with them. Afterward, I thought I would be wise to write down what I could recall having told them in case any of it should later become the subject of an inquiry. I would have to charge them $2,000 to set it down on paper, of course. I had expected to talk to Mr. Gronseth alone but he obviously wanted reinforcements. I told him that if his posse stayed I wouldn’t feel free to tell him everything I thought he should know……data private stuff from my earlier experience on the Board….The posse stayed. Now he’s stuck in a tar baby of his own making.

I hope he’s read his Joel Chandler Harris.